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‘Where’s the f***ing quarantine? Where are the f***ing masks?’ Hundreds of oil field workers in Yakutia gather together in a crowd to demand better protection against the coronavirus

Source: Meduza
“Taiga Post” / YouTube

Shift workers at the Chayanda oil field in Yakutia assembled for an unplanned protest on April 27, demanding measures to protect them against the spread of COVID-19. The oil field in question is operated by the company “Gazprom Dobycha Noyabrsk.”

According to the online newspaper TaigaPost, around 1,000 people joined the rally. However, other reports claim that only a few hundred people attended the gathering.

In a video filmed during the rally that appeared on social media, workers can be seen standing close together and shouting their demands. Using colorful language, they complain that there are no quarantine measures in place (despite the fact that the Chayanda oil field declared a quarantine on its premises beginning on April 17). The workers say they are poorly fed and living in dormitories, not knowing who among them could be sick with the coronavirus.

“Now we are getting fucking sick! They are fucking herding us all into dorms [...] We’re infected. Where’s the fucking quarantine? Where are the fucking masks? Where is fucking everything?” shouted demonstrators.

Protesters also threatened to take their demands to President Putin. The crowd eventually dispersed on its own.

The original video contains strong language in Russian. You can watch it here.
A video of the rally at the Chayanda oil field in Yakutia on April 27.
«Sakhapress Сетевое издание» / YouTube

On April 28, the governor of Yakutia, Aisen Nikolaev, reported that a “very significant” number of people at the Chayanda oil field have the coronavirus, according to Gazprom.

At the request of the authorities, Gazprom has set up mobile hospitals at the oil field. Workers with COVID-19 are being sent to hospitals in cities in Yakutia, as well as in the Yamalo-Nenets Autonomous District in western Siberia. Some 56 workers have been hospitalized in the town of Lensk and in the city of Yakutsk (the capital of Yakutia). An additional 39 workers were hospitalized in Noyabrsk (the largest city in the Yamalo-Nenets Autonomous District). 

All 10,500 workers at the Chayanda oil field have been tested for COVID-19, but the results are not ready yet, Governor Nikolaev said. Once the test results come back, he says, officials are planning to remove the workers from the oil field and either send them for treatment or to an observatory, possibly in other regions.

An appeal from construction workers at the Chayanda oil field for the company “Gazartstroy” was later published online, claiming that they do not know whether or not they are being kept near coronavirus patients and that the management's containment measures have “led to nothing.”

“The uncertainty about the situation and disinformation from ‘Gazartstroy’ employees has led to destabilization,” the statement said.

The Lensk District Prosecutor’s Office has already launched an investigation following the rally at the Chayanda oil field. The authorities will now review the facility's compliance with labor rights and health and epidemiological requirements, as well as the measures being taken to prevent a mass outbreak of COVID-19 among workers.

Based on the results of the investigation, local prosecutors are prepared to take full legal action, if necessary, the Lensk District Prosecutor’s Office said.

Meanwhile, the company running the oil field, “Gazprom Dobycha Noyabrsk,” told RIA Novosti that the rally took place at a shift workers’ settlement owned by a contractor. “We have no right to comment on behalf of another company,” the source said.

Representatives of “Gazartstroy” have yet to comment on the incident.

Text by Alexander Baklanov

Translation by Eilish Hart

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